Southern FL The "Labor Day Hurricane," Sept 1935

Mass Burial of Hurricane Victims Cremation of the bodies, Southern Florida Hurricane




Miami, Fla., Sept. 4. -- (AP) -- The raging tropical hurricane which swept the Florida Keys with an unofficial toll of from 200 to 500 lives was headed back northeastward across the state tonight with apparently diminishing force.
LEONARD K. THOMPSON, Red Cross disaster relief chairman in the hurricane area, advised his Washington headquarters tonight he believed the death toll woul dbe less than 200. This estimate, he said, was made after contact with all hitherto unheard from points in the area.
No estimate of the crop and property damage could yet be obtained and it was likely a factual total of the loss of life would not be available for days. The Red Cross figure was the first of a semi-official nature to be announced. Rescue forces were being organized in all parts of the affected area, however, and it was hoped restoration of communication lines would quickly reveal the extent of the storm.
There were reports of high winds in Northwestern Florida tonight and some property damage but no indication of loss of life. At 7:30 o'clock tonight the weather bureau at Jacksonville said the disturbance, gradually diminishing to storm winds, probably would pass just north of Macon, Ga., and move out into the ocean through the Carolinas.
Coast guard headquarters at Washington were informed tonight by its Jacksonville station that between 200 and 400 persons were dead at Matecumbe, where a number of world war veterans were engaged in a road building project.
An estimate that the deat in the keys would not exceed 300 came from DR. JOE STEWART, who late today completed an aerial survey of the storm swept keys.
GEORGE BRANCH, station master at Islamorado toward the north end of the island chain, reported to the Florida east coast railroad he had counted nearly 150 bodies and estimated the storm had claimed several hundred lives.
From JACK COMBS, a Miami undertaker who led a rescue expedition into the storm stricken keys, came a report that between 400 and 500 persons may have died.
Progress Watched.
While struggling against odds to render help to the injured and homeless and obtain an accurate survey of the damage wrought by the disturbance, Red Cross and other relief workers kept a close watch on the progress of the storm, which tonight presented a new menace to the northern section of the state.
Crossing the western coast of the peninsula north of St. Petersburg after swinging out over the gulf, the howling hurricane passed inland again in the vicinity of the little sponge fishing village of Cedar Key, and apparently took up a north-northeast course. No serious damage was reported threre.
The territory immediately inland from Cedar Key is more or less sparsely settled and is composed largely of farm and timber land. Farther back from the coast line toward the Georgia state line, however, are such cities as Cross City, Live Oak, Lake City and Madison.
Report To Capital.
In his report to Washington, Disaster Relief Chairman THOMPSON said the 100 known dead wre from the neighborhood of world war veterans' Camp No. 1, located on upper Matecumbe Key. One out of every three persons at that camp was said to be dead.
Rescue workers still were having difficulty reaching two other veterans' Camps, Nos. 3 and 5, located on lower Matcumbe, which was isolated when winds and flood waters carried away the bridges, highway and railroad tracks that linked that island in the key group.
It was in the vicinity of Islamorado, to the north, in the vicinity of Camp No. 1, that Station Master BRANCH reported he had counted nearly 150 bodies.
A radio message from a coast guard amphibian plane flying over the storm-stricken keys said only 70 men remained alive in Camps Nos. 3 and 5 on lower Matecumbe. It added that three doctors were on hand and that survivors were being taken aboard three yachts and a coast guard cutter to be transferred to Miami.



1935 Labor Day Hurricane

This was a horrific event that the Keys will always remember. You can read more about this disaster at